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Snow sports are one of the few reasons to look forward to winter in Seattle. Ski season usually lasts from late November until late March or early April. A one-day adult lift ticket at an area resort averages around $60; most resorts rent equipment and have restaurants.
Cross-country trails range from undisturbed backcountry routes to groomed resort tracks. To ski on state park trails you must purchase a Sno-Park Pass, available at most sporting goods stores, ski shops, and forest service district offices. Always call ahead for road conditions, which might prevent trail access or require you to put chains on your tires.
Ski conditions (206/634–0200 Cascade;. www.skiwashington.com.)
Road conditions (800/695–7623. wsdot.wa.gov/traffic.)
State Parks Information Center. For information on cross-country trails and trail conditions, contact the State Parks Information Center. 800/233–0321. www.parks.wa.gov/winter.
Alpental at the Summit. Part of the Summit at Snoqualmie complex, Alpental attracts advanced skiers to its many long, steep runs. (Giant slalom gold medalist Debbie Armstrong trained here for the 1984 Olympics.) A one-day lift ticket will run you $40–$60; equipment is another $28–$39. The resort is 50 miles from Seattle, but it's right off the highway, so you (mostly) avoid icy mountain roads. Exit 52 off I–90, Snoqualmie Pass, Seattle, WA, 98068. 425/434–7669. www.summitatsnoqualmie.com.
Crystal Mountain. Serious skiers and boarders don't mind the 2½-hour drive here (it's about 75 miles from the city). The slopes are challenging, the snow conditions are usually good, and the views of Mt. Rainier are amazing. A gondola whisks riders—and visitors who simply want to check out the views and eat at The Summit—up quickly and comfortably. Lift tickets cost $66 for a full day, or $74 with gondola access. Full rental packages run $35. There are only three lodging options on or near the mountain (Crystal Mountain Hotels, Crystal Mountain Lodging Suites, and Alta Crystal Resort). They tend to fill up on busy winter weekends, so book ahead if you want to stay the night. 33914 Crystal Mountain Blvd., Seattle, WA, 98022. 360/663–2265; 800/695–7623 road conditions; 888/754–6199 snow report. www.skicrystal.com.
Hurricane Ridge Ski and Snowboard Area. The cross-country trails here, in Olympic National Park, begin at the lodge and have great views of Mt. Olympus. A small downhill ski and snowboarding area is open weekends and holidays; lift tickets are $12–$32. There's also a tubing/sledding hill. The Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center has a small restaurant, an interpretive center, and restrooms. Admission to the park is $15. Call ahead for road conditions before taking the three-hour drive from Seattle. Olympic National Park, 17 mi south of Port Angeles, Seattle, WA, 98362. 360/565–3100; 360/565–3131 for road reports. www.hurricaneridge.com.
The Summit at Snoqualmie. Chances are good that any local skier you ask took his or her first run at Snoqualmie, the resort closest to the city. With four ski areas, gentle-to-advanced slopes, rope tows, moseying chairlifts, a snowboard park, and dozens of educational programs, it's the obvious choice for an introduction to the slopes. One-day lift tickets cost $60 for adults; equipment packages are $39 a day. The Nordic Center at Summit East is the starting point for 31 miles of cross-country trails. Guided snowshoe hikes are offered here on Friday and weekends. The $19 trail pass includes two rides on the chairlifts. Exit 52 off I–90, Snoqualmie Pass, Seattle, WA, 98068. 425/434–7669; 206/434–6708 for Nordic center. www.summitatsnoqualmie.com.
Whistler Blackcomb. Whistler, 200 miles north of Seattle, is best done as a three-day weekend trip. (Just make sure your car has chains or snow tires.) And you really can't call yourself a skier here and not go to Whistler at least once. The massive resort is renowned for its nightlife, which is just at the foot of the slopes. When you arrive, you abandon your car outside the village—you can reach the entire hotel/dining/ski area on foot. A one-day adult lift ticket costs about $90 at the window, which includes access to the famous Peak 2 Peak gondola, a hair-raising ride between Whistler and Blackcomb mountains; you'll save if you buy a multi-day pass in advance online. The area includes more than 17 miles of cross-country trails, usually open November–March. For diehard skiers and boarders who want an extended season, there's summer skiing on Blackcomb Glacier through July. Hwy. 99, Whistler, BC, V0N 1B4. 866/218–9690. www.whistler-blackcomb.com.